Toe to Toe: Hodes versus Schmidley (Hodes)

by Alex Hodes | 10/1/07 2:59am

Over the past few months, we've seen countless athletes fail to live up to their responsibilities as role models. In many ways, we've come to a point where we expect our heroes to disappoint us, much like the season premiere of NBC's Heroes. We're constantly bombarded by stories of all that is wrong in sports. Bonds, Vick, Ankiel, Pacman, OJ (again), all athletes who could have been celebrated; instead, they've all found themselves in the news for the wrong reasons this summer.

Is all hope lost in sports? Will the next Billy Crystal produce 756* twenty years from now? Will Dartmouth lower the ridiculous prices at its new cereal bar? Athletes can still be role models; it's just a matter of looking beyond the media-driven negativity. With that in mind, I'd like to take a look at two athletes who represent the best sports has to offer.

While the man who was supposed to revolutionize the quarterback position was busy throwing dogs into the ring, another was busy throwing touchdown passes. For those who missed it, "Something About Mary's" Brett Favre passed "Ace Ventura's" Dan Marino for the all-time touchdown record. Favre has been bashed in recent years for having hung around for too long, but he's enjoying a marked resurgence this season. He's been a great football player for longer than the freshmen have been alive, but he's also someone young Americans can proudly admire. Like most heroes, he is not without flaws, having overcome a public battle with addiction, but the grace with which he has grown as an individual is inspiring. Favre's life has been an open book, the good and the bad. His father's death, his wife's cancer, his personal losses in Hurricane Katrina, Favre has had to deal with them all while under the glare of the public eye. Throughout it all, he's remained a great Green Bay Packer, showing up to play week after week, through injuries and tragedies alike.

Graceful as Favre, Derek Jeter is another hero of mine. Now before all the Yankee-haters tear me apart, understand what makes a hero. I've grown up with Jeter. He helped deliver four championships to New York during my most formative years. He's constantly given his all, and sometimes his body, for New York, something all Yankees fans are proud of. I'll be the first to admit that he's not perfect. He's not the best defensive shortstop and he does have an occasionally unnecessary flair for the dramatic. But few would question him as a role model.

It's easy to become disillusioned by the concept of heroes in sports. With so much negativity in the sports world, it's easy to look for heroes in other walks of life. Still, the role of heroes in sports remains important. Right or wrong, athletes are often the first public figures to which we attach ourselves. We can only hope that the athlete-hero doesn't become a thing of the past.

Advertise your student group in The Dartmouth for free!